- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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On Tuesday, that projection became a reality as New York cut five players: Pace, Scott, safety Eric Smith, offensive tackle Jason Smith and tight end Josh Baker. These now former Jets are all free game for Buffalo to recruit.
With former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine now running Buffalo’s defense, expect the Bills to be on the short list for Pace, Scott and Eric Smith.
Let's take a look at each player and how they would fit with the Bills:
Scott brings attitude and toughness. Those are two things Buffalo lacked on defense and within its thin linebacker corps. The Bills were 31st against the run last year and were pushed around way too often. Scott can help against the run and knows Pettine's defense well. But Scott, 32, is a limited, two-down linebacker at this stage in his career. The Bills would need a more athletic linebacker to cover on passing downs.
Pace is the best player of the three defenders. He is 32 but still has something left in the tank. Pace recorded 55 tackles and three sacks in 2012. He's also durable and hasn't missed a start since 2010. The biggest issue with Pace is his declining sack numbers. Pace had a season-high eight sacks in 2009, but that number has decreased every year since. He may not add much of a pass rush to Buffalo but could provide mentorship and knowledge to Buffalo’s younger defenders.
The Bills also have an opening at safety after releasing veteran leader George Wilson. However, Smith would be a downgrade as a starting safety. Smith is limited in coverage and is not always a reliable tackler. Pettine may have interest in Smith as a third safety who also can assist on special teams.
Buffalo has the cap room to make some veteran additions. Free agency doesn't start until March, but the Bills can get a head start due to these recently released former Jets.